How to Find Help Treating a Cognitive Problem
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Cognitive impairment can have devastating effects on a person’s emotional and physical well-being. It is important to understand what cognitive problems are, how they can be treated and how to cope with them in order to learn to live with this type of impairment. By fully understanding the nature of a specific cognitive impairment, you and your family will be ready to fight any type of cognitive disorder you may face.

Understanding Cognitive Problems

Cognitive problems affect a person’s ability to remember past events, concentrate on a task, learn new information or make simple decisions. If left untreated, cognitive impairment can prevent a person from living independently. Some of the more commonly recognized cognitive problems include Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The Centers for Disease Control estimate there are more than 16 million people in the United States living with cognitive problems.

How to Diagnose a Cognitive Problem

A proper diagnosis of a cognitive impairment is essential for receiving proper treatment, so it is important to talk to your doctor about any and all symptoms you are experiencing. Your doctor may perform any of the following tests to determine if you have a mild cognitive impairment:

These tests can help diagnose physical health problems, such as a tumor or stroke, that can affect your memory. Brain imaging can help your physician diagnose specific degenerative disorders and provide a baseline for your current condition, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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Testing can also help detect Alzheimer’s disease, which affects an estimated 5.1 million adults in the United States, according to the National Institute on Aging. Early intervention can be a key factor in treating this cognitive disorder.

How to Recognize a Cognitive Disorder

While you might not be qualified to diagnose a cognitive disorder in yourself or a loved one, you can learn how to recognize a potential cognitive problem. Though each cognitive disorder can have its own unique symptoms, there are some warning signs you can use to recognize a potential cognitive impairment. Overall forgetfulness, such as having difficulty remembering the names of common objects, can be one sign of a cognitive problem. People with Alzheimer’s disease may get lost walking a familiar route or may forget how they got to a certain location. Drastic mood swings, anger, depression and personality changes can also be clear indicators of a problem. According to the University of California at San Francisco, these symptoms, along with the diminished ability to make good judgments, can point to Alzheimer’s in many patients.

Steps You Can Take to Help Someone With Cognitive Problems

The diagnosis of a cognitive problem can be devastating, but you can be a pillar of support for someone with this type of impairment. Assistance with performing everyday tasks like grocery shopping can be a huge help to someone with a cognitive problem. Most importantly, you can help by staying positive. A diagnosis of dementia, Alzheimer’s or even a mild cognition impairment can hurt a person’s self-esteem and cause depression. Staying positive and showing your support in any way possible is invaluable for a family member living with a cognitive problem.

Talking to Someone With a Cognitive Disorder

People who have a cognitive disorder often try to hide their symptoms. It can be embarrassing and difficult to admit experiencing memory loss or having trouble performing everyday tasks. When you talk to a family member or loved one with a cognitive problem, it is important to be sensitive to that person’s feelings.

The Family Caregiver Alliance recommends speaking slowly, using simple words and phrases to prevent confusion when speaking to someone with a disorder like dementia. Showing warmth and affection while maintaining a positive attitude can help your loved one, even on a bad day.

It can be frustrating to talk with your loved one when they are having a difficult time understanding what you are trying to communicate, but it is important to remain calm and patient. You should avoid insisting someone with a cognitive disorder is wrong, even if that is the truth. Instead, try redirecting the conversation or switching to a different activity. Remember, the person you are talking to is still the same person you have always known and loved. The cognitive disorder is the problem, not your loved one.

Adolescents and Teens

Cognitive disorders that affect adolescents and teens are different from those associated with older adults. An estimated 6 percent of children under the age of 18 receive special education or other intervention services for cognitive impairment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. According to the Siskin’s Children’s Institute, cognitive disorders in young people can be caused by chromosomal disorders, exposure to toxins, inadequate medical care and extreme malnutrition. If you are the parent or caregiver for a teen with a cognitive impairment, you can find help for your child by calling . Our friendly staff will be able to help you find the most appropriate treatment facility for your child’s condition.

Learning to Cope With Cognitive Issues

A diagnosis of cognitive impairment can be difficult to accept, but there are ways to cope with them. Building a solid support network is one of the best ways to handle this change in life. If you or someone you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia or any other type of cognitive disorder, you may want to consider finding a local support group. Shared experiences can help you realize you are not alone and can also help you learn new coping strategies for handling issues that arise.

The Mayo Clinic also advocates seeking individual or family counseling, reaching out to friends and family, and finding comfort in holistic or spiritual organizations. Staying active with exercise, hobbies and volunteering can also be particularly helpful coping strategies. Remember to be patient with yourself and understand that a cognitive impairment is not your fault.

How to Treat Cognitive Problems

Treatment programs for cognitive problems can vary depending on your exact diagnosis. According to the National Institute on Aging, cholinesterase inhibitors, such as Exelon and Aricept, are commonly prescribed for people with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Namenda is a medication for those with moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s disease, and it has shown some ability to delay some of the symptoms of the disease.

Therapeutic treatments, such as occupational therapy and modification therapy, are used to treat some symptoms of dementia, according to the Mayo Clinic. Simple changes to the home environment or the way daily tasks are handled can help improve focus and reduce confusion in many patients.

Deciding Between Possible Solutions

Choosing the right course of treatment is something you should discuss with doctors, family members and caregivers. While some people prefer medicinal treatment, you may decide to take an approach that combines therapy and medications. If you or someone close to you has a cognitive disorder, you can get help finding the best course of treatment by calling . Our trained staff is available every hour of every day to assist you. You do not have to battle a cognitive disorder on your own.

Where to Find Cognitive Treatment for a Friend or Family Member

A cognitive disorder diagnosis can be overwhelming, and it can be difficult to know where to turn for help. If you are seeking help for a loved one, talk to your physician, and ask them any questions you have. When you are ready to find available treatment options and support for cognitive disorders, remember to call . We can help you find the right treatment approach that will help you, your loved one and your family cope with a cognitive disorder diagnosis.

Additional Resources

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